8:22 am. The valley sprawled out ahead of us, empty of visitors but full of adventures.
After roaming about Goosenecks State Park and the surrounding area Sunday evening, I checked in at the hotel – Goulding’s Lodge. I chose this one because it was pet friendly ($20 per pet). A nice bonus was that the room looked out over the valley. We enjoyed a cozy stay and in the morning we were able to watch the sun start to rise (or look for critters, depending who you asked) from our patio. This was my signal the pack up and head to the valley (a short 4-mile drive from the hotel).
There was a $20 entrance fee, which was good for two days (wish I had known that before – I might have fit in an evening hike and a morning hike!). I checked in at the visitor’s center and logged my info in the Wildcat Trail hiker’s log. I returned to the car to retrieve the hounds (no dogs allowed inside the visitor center buildings!) and bundled them up for the windy and chilly hike ahead of us.
The start of the trail was like a red sand dune. As we lowered into the valley, it turned to packed red dirt and rock. I could see tracks from previous hikers, but they were blurred enough the night’s rain that I could tell they were from the day before.
We stopped frequently to enjoy the peace of the valley. Each moment brought changes to the colors of the valley as the sun rose higher and as clouds swept over the tops of the larger monuments. It was going to be a wonderful stroll along the Wildcat Trail.